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Sep 26, 2016

Oak Openings Stampede 25k race review

Short Version
Finished in 2:50:08 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place:  93/140
Men 40-49:  15/20

Timed race #116

A new race to me.  I've only done a few other 25k's and it's a great distance.  The park was awesome and the course was really nice and very flat.  The race was well organized and not a big race which is also nice.  I would definitely run this one again.


Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was online and very simple.  You could pick your packet up at the local running store or the day of the race.  Because it's about an hour and 45 minutes away, my running buddy, Kevin and I opted to pick up our race packet that morning.  There were two volunteers helping and we were done quickly.
Registration inside this very nice structure with real bathrooms

The race had the course map set up which was basically a 25k loop around the park.
Map of course
Start Area
We got there a little early and was able to look around.  The park itself (Oak Openings) is incredible.  This is a very nice place.  I wish it were closer to us as I'd love it if I could run this course regularly.  They had a lake that I think was man-made but really very nice.  The fog was still burning off when we got there.  It was very humid the entire race.
Lake with the fog
Finish line set up
The start was basically a sign to start.  Got of love small races!
Start line

There was an area by the lake where we waited to start.  The 50k went off first then 25k then 5k.  There was about 30 minutes between races.  Given the small size of the races, we really could have started 10-15 minutes later.
Runners ready to run
It was nice to have a 9am start though since we live so far away.  We probably would have left even later had packet pickup stayed open until the race start.
We lined up about 70% back
The course was a flat, well marked trail.  While the race marked the trails, there were also yellow dots to keep you on track that were part of the regular trail system.  The race did a good job stating that for us in case we got lost (and there was not real way to get lost)

Elevation - very flat!
I had no goals in mind other than just enjoy the race.  This was my longest run in quite awhile since my last marathon was in June.  Kevin and I ran about 10 miles of the course together.
With a sound of the horn, the runners were off!
A little back up at the start
While there was a little backup at the start, it quickly thinned out.
Running over the bridge
The course itself had some nice variety in it too.  We had trails, gravel, grass, and some asphalt.
Still foggy at the start
This area on the asphalt was kind of strange in that we were on it for awhile.  I don't know the area so I wasn't sure if we could get on trails here or not.  Regardless, it was not too long on asphalt.
Asphalt section
Kevin was enjoying himself
It was then onto the trails.  There is single track but much of the course is wide track which made for some easy passing.

Beautiful area
The woods were really beautiful and I bet this looks amazing in the Fall.
Me just plugging along
We were on what was called the Scout Trail.  They had these cool markers out there.  There were also horse trails.  About mile 2-3 we encountered some yellow jackets.  The race had warned us on their website that past runners have gotten stung.  I was fortunate enough to only get one sting.  My buddy ended up with 6 stings.  Yikes!!!!  We saw the girl in front of us running off the trail screaming and we had no clue what was happening until we got stung.  We could hear people behind us scream as well.  Fortunately this was the only place we encountered this.
Cool trail marker
There was a small asphalt section that looked like not many people ran on regularly.

It was interesting that we ran up right next to the road but it was short lived and headed back into the woods quickly.
Next to the road
There were some homes in the area that were right near where we were running.  What a nice place to live if you like to run trails.
Cool bridge
We then headed into some grassy areas.  This was not easy running as the footing was not good.
Uneven ground
Another bridge to run over
We even ran over some steps in the area.  We went down them though as I turned around to get a picture of them.
Steps on the course
Then the trail shifted to some two track for a little bit
Two track
Thankfully we headed back into the woods quickly.
Another awesome area
Some nice single track
Kevin decided he wanted to take a break and told me to go ahead so I ran the rest of the course alone.
50k ran the course twice
The variety of the trail was really great.  You always felt like you were on different trails along the way.
Sun coming out.  Yellow dot marking trail
Wide trail
Some single track
We crossed the road here by a prairie and headed back into the woods again.

This area of the trail reminds me of a section of the North Country Trail I run in Northern Michigan
Soon we were coming around near the lake where the finish was.  We got to run around the lake.
Structures with picnic area
Swampy area
Another nice bridge to cross over as we were getting closer to the finish line.
Another bridge
I stopped to take a picture of this huge tree next to the trail.  Really nice!
Large tree
Nothing better than running through pines
There was another short asphalt section and then I could finally see the finish line.
People were cheering here for runners
Finish line just past the bridge
Aid Stations
The aid stations were well stocked especially given there was a 50k going on.  The volunteers did a great job helping us runners.
Aid station
The aid station below was probably very busy.  It was about 1/2 - 1 mile after the yellow jackets.  One of the volunteers was helping a girl who got stung in the eye!  As you can see, Kevin was hurting a bit from the SIX stings but pushed forward.  Fortunately, the race had topical bee medicine which helped a little bit on the sting.
Busy aid station
Finish Area
The finish area was right where the start was located.  The race had pancakes after the race but we decided to get a regular meal on the ride home.
A fun 25k
For your entry, you received a marked and supported course.  You received a bib with a timing chip, an awesome race medal and a very nice Brooks shirt.  I love seeing that the race was able to offer all this for such a reasonable price($45 plus service fee).
Race bib
The race medal was really cool and was a piece of wood with the race information added to it.  The ribbon was paracord.  A perfect race medal for a trail race.
Medal close up
The race gave you a Brooks long sleeve tech shirt.  In my opinion, Brooks tech shirts are the best shirts you can get at a race and I train in them often.  I love when race offers them and it would definitely get me back if they keep that up.  I remarked to Kevin that we run some very large races and those races don't even offer Brooks so it's nice to see when they are offered.  I like the shirt since it's got a funny squirrel on it and I like bright colors since I run early in the mornings.
Great tech shirt by Brooks
Sponsors on the back
The organization was good.  The website had all information you would need.  The packet pickup was easy.  The course was marked well except one part that was a little confusing but either way led to the same direction.  The medal and shirt are awesome.  Very well done for a small race.

Overall, I really like the challenge of the 25k.  It makes for a little more effort but is worth it.  The course is very flat and a perfect course especially for new runners looking to try a trail race.  It's also great for 50k runners to make things a little easier.  The aid stations were well stocked, organized and well run by volunteers.  I love the variety of the trail here.  The shirts and medals were awesome and make me want to come back again.  I will definitely run this race again in the future even given the long drive from Michigan that morning.  You could also opt to camp nearby too.  This is a race you should put on your bucket list.  I'm really happy that I decided to go down and race it.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I paid for this race with my own funds.  All opinions are my own.